Tracking is essential in affiliate marketing to measure and optimize campaign performance. It involves monitoring and controlling marketing activities and site performance using tracking software or add-ons. By tracking metrics such as traffic, conversions, and partner performance, advertisers and affiliates can gain valuable insights to analyze the effectiveness of their marketing strategies. Tracking also helps detect fraud, generate accurate reports, and improve overall program performance, making it a crucial element in successful affiliate marketing campaigns.
Tracking In Affiliate Marketing
Tracking in affiliate marketing involves monitoring and recording user actions and conversions using unique tracking codes or affiliate links. These codes or links are embedded in marketing materials. When a user interacts with the marketing material, the tracking code captures information about the user’s actions and behavior, storing it in a tracking cookie or using other tracking methods. The data collected includes details such as the affiliate ID, traffic source, and time of the click or conversion.
The purpose of tracking is to attribute sales or leads to specific affiliates, optimize marketing strategies, and make data-driven decisions. It helps identify high-performing affiliates, understand the impact of marketing channels, prevent fraud, and optimize the affiliate marketing program overall.
Traditionally, ad networks have their in-house tracking solutions, and RollerAds is no exception. We offer detailed statistics on sales, clicks, conversion rate, sales per affiliate, and other crucial metrics. Get data, block bots, split-test like there is no tomorrow, analyze the performance, and make data-driven decisions — all with RollerAds! Just make sure you have postback set up and running. We even have a guide, dedicated specifically to that.
If you, however, feel a sense of mistrust toward the trackers, provided by ad networks (which is perfectly understandable), you can go for 3rd-party trackers. This way, you can compare the statistics and detect performance drops, discrepancies, or improper setup before it’s too late. No, the trackers won’t be listed here — we decided to make a separate article for that! Pay a visit to our blog regularly, so you won’t miss the compilation of the trackers, as well as other content that can make your life easier, more productive, and more interesting.
Benefits of Tracking in Affiliate Marketing
Imagine a sprint race with no timer. If several racers are to finish toe-to-toe, who would win? The same issue happens when your affiliate marketing progress is not tracked. Proper tracking system grants you the following bonuses:
- Accurate measurement of campaign performance and ROI: by tracking key metrics such as clicks, conversions, and sales, marketers can evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing strategies and optimize their campaigns accordingly. Accurate tracking provides insights into which marketing channels and affiliates are driving the most valuable traffic and generating the highest conversions, helping marketers allocate resources effectively.
- Measurement of affiliate contributions: by monitoring affiliate performance and attributing conversions and sales to specific affiliates, marketers can identify top-performing affiliates who bring in high-quality traffic and generate significant revenue. This information can be used to optimize affiliate partnerships, establish reward structures, and incentivize affiliates to drive more conversions.
- Optimization of campaigns: by analyzing conversion rates, click-through rates (CTR), and other performance metrics, marketers can make data-driven decisions to improve their marketing strategies. They can identify underperforming affiliates, adjust their commission structures, refine their targeting, and optimize their creatives to drive better results.
- Data-driven decision making: by analyzing tracking data, marketers can gain insights into consumer behavior, preferences, and trends. This information can help them make informed decisions about targeting, messaging, and campaign optimization. Data-driven decision making reduces guesswork and allows marketers to allocate their resources effectively for maximum impact.
- Transparency and accountability: marketers can track the entire customer journey, from the initial click to the final conversion, ensuring fair attribution of sales and commissions. This transparency builds trust between advertisers and affiliates, fostering strong relationships and long-term partnerships. It also ensures that affiliates are fairly compensated for their efforts, leading to a more motivated and engaged affiliate network.
As you can see, almost all of these reasons are subsequent to each other. Setting up a proper tracking system optimizes the workflow of advertisers, affiliates, and even publishers. For example, publishers can use click-tracking to optimize their websites to capitalize on the strong points and improve the “cold” spots.
Common Tracking Methods
Speaking of click-tracking and tracking methods in general, there are a couple of options in affiliate marketing:
- Click tracking: the process of monitoring and recording user clicks on affiliate links or marketing materials to track engagement and attribute actions to specific affiliates. It involves capturing information about the click, such as the time, date, and source.
- Cookie-based tracking: one of the most widely used methods in affiliate marketing. It relies on browser cookies, which are small text files stored on a user’s computer, to track user actions. When a user clicks on an affiliate link, a unique tracking cookie is dropped on their browser, containing information about the affiliate, the advertiser, and the specific campaign. This cookie allows the affiliate network or tracking software to track the user’s actions, such as clicks, conversions, and purchases, and attribute them to the appropriate affiliate. Cookie tracking is severely crippled after the adoption of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25th of May 2018.
- Pixel tracking: a tracking pixel is a small, transparent image or code snippet that is embedded on a webpage. When a user visits a webpage with a tracking pixel, the pixel sends a request to the tracking server, which records the visit and tracks user actions. Pixel tracking can be used to track conversions, impressions, and other user interactions. It is commonly used in affiliate marketing to track actions that occur on the advertiser’s website after a user clicks on an affiliate link.
- S2S tracking: with server-to-server tracking, the affiliate network or tracking software communicates directly with the advertiser’s server to track user actions and attribute them to the appropriate affiliate. This method is often used to improve tracking accuracy and reliability, as it eliminates potential issues with cookies or pixel firing.
- Fingerprint tracking: fingerprint tracking is a method that involves collecting and analyzing various hardware and software information from a user’s device to construct a unique identifier, or “fingerprint”. This fingerprint can be used to track user actions across different devices and browsers. Fingerprint tracking is more intrusive and less regulated than cookie-based tracking, as it collects more detailed information about the user’s device. It is often used in conjunction with other tracking methods to enhance tracking accuracy and combat fraudulent activities. Fingerprint tracking is so efficient that if not for VPN, the account farming would not be possible by now.
- Mobile app tracking: it involves integrating tracking SDKs (Software Development Kits) into mobile apps to track user interactions, such as app installs, in-app purchases, and other events. Mobile app tracking allows advertisers to attribute conversions and measure the effectiveness of their mobile advertising campaigns. As the name suggests, this type of tracking is available for mobiles only.
- Offline tracking: the methods used to track and attribute sales or conversions that occur outside of the online space. These techniques are employed when a user interacts with affiliate marketing materials through offline channels, such as phone calls or in-person visits. Offline tracking may involve unique phone numbers, promo codes, or custom URLs that are associated with specific affiliates.
These are some of the common tracking methods used in affiliate marketing. Each method has its own advantages and considerations, and advertisers may use a combination of these methods to track and optimize their affiliate marketing campaigns effectively.
Challenges and Solutions in Tracking
Challenges in Tracking
- Ad blockers: ad blockers are browser extensions or software that prevent ads from being displayed on web pages. They can also block tracking codes and scripts, making it difficult to track user activity.
- Cookie deletion: users can delete cookies from their browsers, which can result in lost tracking data. This can occur manually or automatically when users clear their browser history or use privacy features.
- Cross-device tracking: tracking user behavior across multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and desktops, can be challenging. Users may switch devices, making it difficult to attribute actions to specific individuals.
Solutions and Techniques
- First-party cookies: first-party cookies are placed by the website a user is visiting. They are not affected by third-party cookie blockers or ad blockers, making them more reliable for tracking. Websites can use first-party cookies to collect and store tracking data.
- Fingerprint tracking: fingerprint tracking involves collecting information about a user’s hardware and software configuration to create a unique identifier. This technique can be used in combination with other tracking methods to overcome challenges posed by ad blockers and cookie deletion.
- Alternative attribution models: instead of relying solely on last-click attribution, alternative attribution models can be used to distribute commissions or credit across multiple touchpoints in the customer journey. Models like linear attribution, position-based attribution, and algorithmic attribution provide a more comprehensive view of the customer’s interactions.
Tracking is crucial in affiliate marketing, providing insights for optimization and data-driven decision making. It measures campaign performance, detects fraud, and ensures fair attribution. Common methods include click tracking, cookie-based tracking, pixel tracking, S2S tracking, fingerprint tracking, mobile app tracking, and offline tracking. Challenges like ad blockers and cookie deletion can be addressed with first-party cookies, fingerprint tracking, and alternative attribution models. With a robust tracking system, advertisers and affiliates can optimize their efforts, maximize results, and build strong partnerships in affiliate marketing.
P.S. We remind you that the tracking software compilation is on its way, so stay tuned for more useful information and have a very pleasant and productive day, partners. Keep up the good work!